By Daniel Hunter
The trend of entrepreneurs building their empires using coffee shop WiFi is on the rise, but some of the UK's biggest chains are failing to provide a reliable connection, according to hosting company 34SP.com.
Millions of budding entrepreneurs work ‘on the go’ everyday, and a 2014 study found 90% of these rely on the WiFi available in public places like coffee shops. The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend has also boosted the number of mobile workers across the UK, meaning more people than ever are working away from the office.
But the research shows that big name high-street chains, such as Costa and Pret-a-Manger, are failing with less than satisfactory WiFi.
Elements that make up a fast and reliable WiFi connection — upload, download, and ping speeds (the reaction time of your connection) — were far worse at chain businesses than their independent counterparts.
Typically, independents offer 70% higher download speeds, upload speeds 9x faster, and lower ping speeds when compared to chains - all of which add up to a better connection for customers.
So where should entrepreneurs be heading for a good connection? Although the independent coffee shops rank higher overall, not all is lost for chains. The research found Caffé Nero came out on top as the best coffee shop for a good connection, ahead of other popular chains such as Starbucks, Costa, and Pret-a-Manger.
Daniel Foster, co-founder and technical director of 34SP.com, said: “In the beginning stages of a start-up business, it’s extremely common to work from places such as coffee shops, as it’s difficult to afford the expense of an office. This is a trend we have seen increase in recent years, and one which is only set to grow further as more and more workers go mobile.
“Unfortunately, our research has shown that chains aren’t quite keeping up with growing consumer demand for accessible and reliable WiFi connections. Whereas independents tend to set up their own hub, where customers can connect with a password, chains often rely on the likes of Cloud WiFi that just don’t seem to be as reliable.
“These companies are not only missing out on a lot of business, but they could be having a negative impact on the amount of start-ups we see appearing. It isn’t just entrepreneurs that are being affected either. Customers generally want to be connected wherever they go for a multitude of reasons, so it is in the best interests of these businesses to ensure their WiFi is fast and reliable.”